The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation named Temple University mathematician Samuel Taylor a 2020 Sloan Research Fellow. The highly competitive honor identifies rising scientists who've made significant marks on their field and represent the next generation of leaders in the U.S. and Canada.
"Having my research recognized at this level is a huge honor," says Taylor, an assistant professor who joined the department in 2017 from a position at Yale University as Gibbs Assistant Professor. "Many of my mentors were themselves Sloan Fellows, so having this point of comparison to them at a similar career stage is extremely rewarding."
Taylor's research interests include geometric topology and geometric group theory, with a focus on hyperbolic geometry and dynamics. In particular, he has studied the geometry of fiber bundles as well as various statistical properties of geometrically significant groups.
"I like to find and exploit the geometry of whatever object I'm thinking about. Sometimes that means studying the properties of the shortest loops on two dimensional spaces, and sometimes that means thinking about spaces of graphs and their symmetries," explains Taylor, a Philadelphia-area native. "When a topic seems too hard for me to think about directly, I often like to think about what happens in the "typical" case. For example, rather than trying to compute the length of the shortest loop in some complicated space, I'll work out estimates on the shortest loops in a space that's constructed by some random process."
Taylor earned BAs in mathematics and economics in 2009 from The College of New Jersey, and a PhD in mathematics from the University of Texas at Austin in 2014. He has also conducted research at the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute in Berkeley, California.
"It's a happy day for Temple. The Sloan is arguably the most prestigious research award for early career mathematicians and scientists, and this shows Sam is viewed as an emerging leader in his field," says Brian Rider, professor and Mathematics Department chair. "The award also reflects the talented scholars that we continue to attract to the College of Science and Technology."
The Sloan fellowship includes a $75,000 grant, which Taylor will use for research travel. A passionate educator, Taylor has a deep interest in helping students succeed. "I also have a postdoc starting at Temple in the fall," he says, "and the additional money can help fund her travel and research program as well."
The Sloan award seeks to stimulate fundamental research by early-career scientists and scholars of outstanding promise. These two-year fellowships are awarded yearly to researchers in recognition of distinguished performance and a unique potential to make substantial contributions to their field. "Sloan Research Fellows are the best young scientists working today," says Adam F. Falk, president of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. "Sloan Fellows stand out for their creativity, for their hard work, for the importance of the issues they tackle, and the energy and innovation with which they tackle them."
Since the award's inception in the mid 1950s, five Temple faculty members have been named Sloan Research Fellows, including three faculty members from the Department of Mathematics.